Death: The Last Enemy


Paul wrote…

1 Corinthians 15:26
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

One cannot say that death has been “destroyed” if the vast majority of the human race are still existing in a state of death (be it physical or spiritual). For them, death is an ever present reality; death has them firmly in it’s grip. If death is to be truly destroyed, all those existing in a state of death have to be brought to a state of life (both physical and spiritual). In context we see what could be a strong universalist statement…

I Corinthians 15:20-28
20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

I find this passage very interesting, because the implications are very provocative if we take it literally.


Much agreed; and that’s the typical consensus around here, too, btw.

In fairness, traditional damnationists can get at least partially around this by having it refer to the resurrection of the evil (but not necessarily their salvation from sin) as well as of the good. Which I would certainly agree with: it’s at least about the total general resurrection.

Annihilationists can get partially around this by noting (coherently, as far as it goes) that those who have been annihilated no longer exist, and so are no longer in a state of ‘death’ per se (unlike the unredeemed in hades. Many, maybe most, anni’s accept the existence of sinners in hades, and at least briefly after hades, with annihilation following their post-hades existence and the final judgment.)


Welcome, Aqulia, and I love your picture of Moraine lake in the Canadian Rockies. Was standing on that very spot last July with my son.

As to your quote, you’ll not find any disagreement with me. To me that meaning is obvious. However, as Jason said, many folks hold that death is no more from this point onward. Kinda like death gets to keep those it has already won.
Except think about the “victory” death had over the Christ. Does not the resurrection render deaths victory there utterly pathetic and impotent? So for me the Cross of Christ is the answer to those who hold that past deaths still stand.

However, moving on in this wonderful chapter you quote from we find Paul saying something really bold when, in verse 55 (quoting Is 25) he says “Where O death is your victory, where O death is your sting?”

That text is bold, in my view, because IF there remain dead loved ones in the grave, all one would have to do to render Paul’s exultant statement absurd (and worse than meaningless) is to point to one of those graves. Paul risks looking like a total dolt if all one had to do was say “Dude – right there, over in that grave; that’s where deaths victory remains.”

Now it seems that maybe this exultant cry of victory by Paul is a rhetorical device: but its seems to me highly unlikely that Paul would say something so easily refuted by simply noting that heaven has yet to receive ALL of God’s creation.

In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever read Talbotts, or MacDonalds comments on this text. (Have I just missed it??)
For me v 55 is one of the most powerful texts we holders of UR possess.



Talbott discusses it in “Universal Salvation? The Current Debate” (2003), but I don’t remember if he talks about it in in his earlier work.

  • Pat


Ditto! So beautiful. I would LOVE to go there!