Paul and the End Times – Part Two – Eschatology Notes 2023

There is an interesting anomaly in Paul when comparing 1 Corinthians 15 with the last part of Ephesians chapter 1 and first part of chapter 2. In both passages Paul writes of Christ’s resurrection, His reign, and the resurrection of people. He uses the same vocabulary in both passages: Christ being over powers, everything put under Christ’s feet, all in all, etc… But, the passages are not the same. The 1 Corinthians passage is describing an unrealized eschatological event, while the Ephesians passage seems to be describing a realized event which is metaphorical or purely spiritual.

Both passages proclaim that Christ rose from the dead, that Christ rules, and that Christ is above all authority and power. But then things differ. In 1 Corinthians, all of Christ’s enemies are being put under His feet, but it’s not complete yet. In Ephesians, it is done. In 1 Corinthians, it’s not until the kingdom is delivered to God the Father and the Son is subjected to Him, that God will be “all in all.” Whereas in Ephesians, the fullness of Christ already fills “all in all.” In Corinthians, there is a future bodily resurrection, while in Ephesians there is an already seemingly metaphorical/spiritual resurrection. Lastly, in Corinthians the end comes with the resurrection of the dead, while in Ephesians things carry on in this age and the ages to come. One other difference to note is that Ephesians mentions the Church while 1 Corinthians does not, although it is clear that Paul is writing about Christians in that passage.

Scholars (mainly those who are not Christian) suggest that Paul did not write Ephesians. One of their arguments is this anomaly shown here. In Paul’s other letters his eschatology matches what’s seen in 1 Corinthians: a soon coming of Christ resulting in a bodily resurrection. In Paul’s other letters, does he ever imply that believers are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places? Colossians 2:11-15 could go well with the Ephesians passage (although the same scholars who doubt Paul’s authorship of Ephesians also doubt his authorship of Colossians). Romans 6:3-11 could work too, and no one doubts Paul’s authorship there.

Let’s assume Paul wrote it all, and considering the Colossians and Romans passages mentioned above, also assume that Paul, in Ephesians, is describing an already-spiritual-resurrection for believers, and that in 1 Corinthians, Paul is describing a future bodily resurrection. This seems to go well with what Jesus said in John 5, where He seems to speak of an already spiritual resurrection in verses 24-27, and a future physical resurrection in verses 28-30. We can also compare this to Revelation 20. In that passage, starting in verse 4, there are thrones, and the believers of the first century are resurrected and reign with Christ for 1000 years. This is the first resurrection, and it only applies to believers (vs. 5). We could argue that this first resurrection is a spiritual resurrection and that it applies to all believers throughout the 1000 years (with the 1000 years beginning in the first century and continuing on till the Last Day). The final resurrection, a bodily resurrection including all humanity, is seen in vss. 11-15 followed by the final judgement.

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