We Shall Be Changed

we shall be changed (2)

b) 1 Cor 15:51–52: In these verses, Paul described how God shall overcome the seemingly insurmountable difficulty inherent with our physicality (1 Cor 15:50).[1]

New Testament authors used the word “mystery” (mystērion) to refer to something compelling which God hid in the past but now discloses (1 Cor 4:1; Eph 6:19).[2]

Yet, such secrets remain unknowable apart from divine revelation (Eph 3:1–5; Col 1:25–27).[3]

Paul announced, “All shall not fall asleep in death,[4] but all shall be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”

The apostle assumed that some of the recipients of his letter would still live when Christ returned.[5] In fact, Paul expected Jesus to come back during his lifetime (1 Thess 4:13–18).[6]

However, for believers who die prior to Christ’s return, death is no more harmful or long-lasting than sleep.[7]

This passage does not provide a contrast between the corpses of believers and their reanimated bodies. Instead, the emphasis falls upon the difference between our present earthly forms and the glorified bodies like Christ’s which we shall receive at our resurrection (Luke 24:31, 35–44; John 5:28–29; Heb 11:35, 39–40; Heb 12:22–23).[8]

“In a moment” (atomōs) refers to a unit of time so small that it cannot be further divided.[9]

“The twinkling (ripē) of an eye” alludes to the rapidity of casting a glance.[10]

Therefore, Jesus shall instantly transform those who have died and those who remain alive when he returns (Isa 29:5–6; Mal 3:1–2; Luke 21:34–36).[11]

Musicians played trumpets to announce the coronation of kings (2 Sam 15:10; 1 Ki 1:39), to rally and to communicate with military forces (Judg 3:26–29), to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the rebuilt temple (Ezra 3:10–11),[12] to summon the tribes of Israel to gather together, to break camp, and “to be to you a memorial (zikaron) before your God” on appointed feast days (Num 10:1–10).[13]

Israel’s prophets and Jesus recognized the blowing of a trumpet as a sign of the arrival of the end of this age (Joel 2:1; Zech 9:14–17; Isa 27:12–13; Matt 24:30–31).[14]

The metaphor of putting on new garments to describe the change which shall overtake us and the entire creation likely originates from Ps 102:25–28.[15]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read 1 Cor 15:51–52. What will happen when Christ returns? How is each of the Old Testament uses of a trumpet appropriate to that event?

 

 

 

 

Go to Victory over Death

 

[Related posts include Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); Perishable Flesh and Blood (1 Cor 15:50); Victory over Death (1 Cor 15:53–55); As in the Days of Noah (Matt 24:37–39); One Will Be Left (Matt 24:40–41); Continually Watch! (Matt 24:42–44); Christ’s Resurrected Body (Luke 24:31, 35–44); Passed from Death into Life (John 5:24–27); A Second Resurrection (John 5:28–29); Co-Heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16–18); Creation’s Eager Expectation (Rom 8:19); Subjected to Futility (Rom 8:20); Set Free from the Slavery of Corruption (Rom 8:21–22); Glorified Bodies (Phil 3:21); The New Holy City (Rev 21:10–11); and A Return to Paradise (Rev 22:1–5, 20)]

 

[Click here to go to Chapter 10: The Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22–24)]

 

[1] Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 829.

[2] Verbrugge, “μυστηριον” (mystērion), TDNTWA, 379.

[3] Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 829.

[4] Danker et al., “κοιμαω” (koimaō), BDAG,  551.

[5] Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, 310.

[6] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Rev. Ed. 885–6.

[7] Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, 310.

[8] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Rev. Ed., 888.

[9] Danker et al., “ἀτομος” (atomos), BDAG, 149.

[10] Danker et al., “ριπη” (ripē), BDAG, 906.

[11] Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 830.

[12] Victor H. Matthews, “Music and Musical Instruments: Music in the Bible,” ABD 4:930–4, 931–3.

[13] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “זִכָּרוֹן” (zikaron), BDB, 272, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/272/mode/2up.

[14] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Rev. Ed., 886–7.

[15] Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 831.