15.50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
The phrase flesh and blood in this context refers to our bodies as currently designed for life on this planet. These bodies, which are subject to sickness, disease, injury, and one-day decay, are unsuited to heaven. Corruption cannot inherit incorruption.
15.51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
The Greek word translated mystery is musterion. Musterion speaks of something that has previously been hidden, but is now made known, or revealed. Paul is telling the Corinthian Christians and you and I today, something that we could not have known by reason or research. We could not have known this mystery unless God revealed it to us by The Spirit.
What is that mystery that Paul is speaking about here? We shall not all asleep, but we shall all be changed.
We shall not all sleep is the biblical way of describing the physical death of a believer. Remember that Jesus uses the word sleep when He said to His disciples, John 11.11 Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. This sleep referred to here is not some kind of soul sleep or suspended animation as the Jehovah Witnesses and other cults teach. Paul made it clear that to be absent from the body means to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
We shall all be changed. Paul is telling us that not all Christians will sleep, or die. There will be a “final generation” who will be transformed into resurrection bodies at the return of Jesus before they ever face death.
15.52 In a moment (Gr. atomos), in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
In a moment, speaks of the smallest particle of time. The word atomos, from which we get our word atom, means that which can’t be divided. It identifies the smallest possible undividable unit of time.
The Greek word for twinkling refers to any rapid movement. One writer suggests it would be like a sixth of a nanosecond, or the time that it takes for light entering the iris to reach the retina. A micro-second is one millionth of a second. A nanosecond is one thousandth of a micro-second. And the twinkling is one sixth of a nanosecond, and it refers to the sudden transformation of raptured believers, both the dead in Christ, and those who are alive at His coming. This change is going to happen that fast.
This mystery of the alive in Christ being taken up into glory along with those who have died in Christ is recorded in…..
1 Thessalonians 4.15-18 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
When the trump of God sounds, the Lord Himself Jesus Himself shall descend from heaven. The dead in Christ shall rise out of the graves first; then, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet with them in the clouds. We’ll be changed immediately without going through the death process at all.
The Greek word for the English words caught up is harpazo. It means to seize, carry off by force; to claim for oneself eagerly; to snatch out or away.
It is the same word used in the following passages.
Acts 8.39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
2 Corinthians 12.2-4 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter
Revelation 12.5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
This remarkable, instant, gathering of Christians unto Jesus in the clouds has been called the rapture, after the Latin word for caught up. This “rapture like” experience may be what happened to Enoch and Elijah when both were caught up to heaven without dying.
15.53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Notice the word must —it is emphatic. We cannot go to heaven in the bodies that we are in now.
15.54 So when (not if) this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (Isa 25.8).
15.55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (Hosea 13.14)
When the saints are raised from the dead and taken up into glory, then death shall be swallowed up in victory.
Satan seemed to be victorious when Jesus was on the cross and when He was laid in the grave. But it was Jesus, not Satan that was victorious on the cross and over the grave.
Colossians 2.14,15 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it
Hebrews 2:14,15 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Because of the victories won by Jesus on the cross and over the grave, death is no longer a source of dread or fear for the child of God. Christ’s resurrection overcame the grave, and one day ours will also.
Paul quotes two Old Testament passages to confirm this.
Isaiah 25.8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Hosea 13.14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Swallowing is a very strong verb. Death is swallowed up; this speaks of a complete destruction. Death is not merely harmed, it is not really leveled, it is not simply destroyed, it is consumed in an absolute and total victory. Note the 4 “I will’s” in Hosea 13.14.
The incredible wonder of this triumph gives rise to a taunt in verse 55. This is taunting. “O death, where is your victory? O, death, where is your sting?” Death is likened to a poisonous bee sting or snakebite that kills. Death’s sting is gone because Jesus Christ bore the sting for us on Calvary. Jesus Christ swallowed up the power of death when He rose from the dead!!
15.56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
The Law, good in itself, was given to weak and sinful people. When the Law’s moral claim encounters sinful human nature, it activates sin. Rather than bringing salvation, it brings condemnation.
The sting of death is sin. And the strength of sin is the law. The law defines sin. The law of God is the standard that reveals we are sinners. The law declares that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Jesus Christ satisfied every breech of the law. Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for every law ever broken. He paid the full price the law demanded. “The wages of sin is death,” He died to pay the wages. All sin having been dealt with, death has no more sting.
My dear friend, the very smallest unforgiven sin in your life has the power to kill your soul and separate you from God eternally. So unless you have received the forgiveness of your sin through faith in Jesus Christ, when death hits you, it will sting you with its eternal kill power. ON the other hand, if you have received the forgiveness of your sin by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, then sin is not an issue and death has no sting.
The gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims that by virtue of the resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ, we have victory over sin, victory over the Law, and victory over death.
John would write in the Revelation: Revelation 21.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
15.57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 5.4,5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
15.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Paul’s doctrinal declarations always led to practical directives, and this chapter’s conclusion was no exception.
The word therefore in verse 58 is the practical application of knowing and remembering verses 51-57.
Jesus Christ has come. Jesus Christ has died for you. Jesus Christ took all your sins on himself. Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of the law for you. The sting of death is removed. There is no condemnation. No hell. No fear. Though your body may be laid in the grave, Jesus Christ will come. The trumpet will sound. This mortal body will put on immortality and this decomposing, decaying body will become imperishable. Death is swallowed up in a great, blood-bought, Christ-wrought victory. To die is gain. Away from the body, at home with the Lord.
Be Steadfast means to keep moving forward. Keep on going and don’t let up. Don’t be given to fits and starts. Put your hand on the plow and don’t take it off till your work is done. Steady movement forward till your work is done.
Be Immovable means don’t get knocked over by sudden blows. Keep your balance. Stand strong and unshaken when the rains come down and the floods come up and the winds blow and beat against your house. Be like a boulder that can’t get washed away. Be like a tree that can’t get blown down.
Always abounding in the work of the Lord means ”do lots of it.” “Abound in” means “overflow with.” Fill your days with things that count for Christ. Read your bible and pray every single day without ceasing. Reach out to the lost with the love of Christ and the gospel. Reach out to one another. Serve The Lord in any way that you can with all the strength that you can with gladness. Let your light shine before men for the glory of God.
One of the devil’s most effective weapons is the fiery dart of discouragement.
Sometimes we become apathetic about serving the Lord because we don’t see any results. Even if it seems that what you’re doing for Him is not making a very big impact, know this: Your labor is not in vain. Just be faithful to do what He has called you to do, and leave the results to Him.
2 Chronicles 15.7 Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
Galatians 6.9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Hebrews 6.10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
1 Corinthians 6.19,20 What? know ye not (have you forgotten?) that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Your life does not belong to you to do as you will. Your life belongs to Christ and to do His will.
The follower of Jesus Christ is taught in Scripture to establish his or her priorities in life around the biblical principles of Scripture. Outside of your family and work responsibilities, how do you steward your time? God given talents? Finances?
Romans 12.1,2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
This is the only proper response to all that Jesus Christ has done for us. Have you presented yourself fully to God? Are you being conformed to the God centered image of Christ or the self-centered image of this world? Is your mind being transformed by the Word of God, or by the words of men? Are you seeking the will of God or your own will?
Have you been born again?
John 3.3-8 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Jesus was explaining the necessity of the new birth. People don’t enter the Kingdom by living a better life, or by observing rituals, but by grace, through faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.
Just like each of us have had our birth into this world. We need a new birth to be born into the kingdom of God. Will you trust Christ today and embrace Him as Lord of your life?