A rebuttal I've run into regarding 1 Corinthians 15:22


It’s a very popular verse amongst Universalists and one that strongly leans towards God’s plan to save all.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

What I’ve run into in some commentaries from ECTers is that, since later verses in the passage talk about resurrection from the dead, this verse isn’t talking about eternal life, but merely that since everyone died because of Adam, everyone will be resurrected by Christ, but some of those resurrected are only resurrected in order to receive their judgement (hell).

To be honest, I’m not quite sure how to respond to this other than stating that is specifically says everyone is being made alive IN Christ, which would mean they are still under His care, but it feels kind of flimsy to me.



Hey, Nil!

I’m sure Jason will have some very interesting insights on this as usual, but as a preliminary note I’d have to say that I don’t see that from the context at all. It appears that Paul is speaking of the hope of life eternal with Christ all through that chapter, especially the part about the body being sown in weakness and raised to the imperishable, etc. And it works back to Romans 5 where Paul is speaking in the context of all inheriting righteousness as well. Now, John in his Revelations seems to indicate some kind of resurrection of the dead to be judged, I think drawing on some OT prophecies. But both Paul and John seem to have a different aim in mind when speaking of the resurrection. In 1 Cor. 15:24, Paul speaks of the “remainder” coming (no really; the Greek word speaks of the last of a series, not the end of a sequence of time) in the context of Jesus handing over all things to His Father, including Himself.

So really, I don’t see how there’s any room to try to pussy-foot around and bring in this wishy-washy interpretation of a ‘partial resurrection’ where the dead are damned-yet-alive. That might make sense in a metaphorical apocalyptic work, but in the context of Paul, he’s speaking of a full-fledged spiritual body and everlasting life under the almighty, cosmic headship of Christ.


My take is this: this verse isn’t talking about eternal life, since the Bible doesn’t talk about eternal anything, only age-lasting, or eonion. So i agree with the first part, in that everyone died physically and so everyone will be “made alive” physically. This makes sense, since just as no-one had a choice about being born and about dying, no-one will have a choice about being made alive again either.

The problem comes with the 2nd part:

This isn’t referenced in the immediate context, nor the context of the book, nor the context of all Paul’s writings. They’ve brought this in from elsewhere, presumably all the references Jesus made about Gehenna. I think Stellar said it well:


What will have the last word? Sin or grace? Life or death? Heaven or hell?



I don’t think the “in Adam” “in Christ” parallel is flimsy at all. Not one non-universalist thinks that Paul was teaching elsewhere that we die “in Adam” a merely physical death from which we need Christ’s salvation. And if they did, they’d actually be logically concluding Christian universalism here by Christ’s salvation of everyone from the mere death that we only needed to be saved from!

No, if “all die in Adam” means a spiritual death that we have died (and/or shall die) and need salvation from, then being made alive in Christ suggests for the same all an appropriately topically parallel life–or rather a life superior to the death (unless we are supposed to be putting death, or “the Death” as Paul puts it here in this same section, i.e. probably referring to Satan, on equal par with Christ. Which no one in the NT ever suggests.)

But since it’s theoretically possible that local context may clarify a different meaning than what the thematic prior context of the verse would otherwise indicate on the face of it (“all die in Adam” --> “all made alive in Christ”), then I don’t mind in the least going to the local context, which does in fact talk about the resurrection and punishment of the wicked under Christ.

And then talks about the finishing of the punishment of the wicked under Christ.

And then talks about what the results of that finishing are: not annihilation, and not continued rebellion, but loyalty to Christ in conjunction with the Son’s loyalty to the Father.

A rebuttal against verse 22 by itself only seems to succeed by appeal to further local context–which is correct so far as it goes–but Christian universalists appeal to more of the local context in total there, not merely verse 22.

(I have also found rather staunch evidence at the end of the chapter confirming Paul’s intentions there in the middle discourse on eschatological resurrection. The link goes to my forum article on the topic.)


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