TODAY’S READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 14-16
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26
Death will one day be destroyed.
Notice Paul did not say the dead will be destroyed.
He said “death” will destroyed.
Death is a ruler, authority, cosmic power of the present darkness, and a spiritual force of evil in the heavenly. Therefore, death is an enemy of God.
The dead are flesh and blood, mankind. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Since our enemies are God’s enemies, we are not God’s enemies.
You are probably questioning that I just said we are not God’s enemies. Because Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies…” implying that we were enemies of God. And, James 4:4 says, “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
But, we are only enemies of God in a specific place for a specific reason.
What is the place we were enemies of God?
Colossians 1:21 says, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind.” The Greek word for hostile is the same word translated enemy. In fact, this Greek word is used 32 times in the New Testament and is translated enemy 30 of those times. Further, the word is plural in Colossians 1:21. So, the verse could be read, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in the mind.”
We are enemies to God in our minds.
For what reason our minds enemies to God?
Also, Romans 8:7 says that the mind of the flesh, an enemy to God, is not subject to the law of God because it is not able to be subject. Because in fear of death, we were subjects to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:15).
Death has held our minds captive and made us enemies to God.
But, we ourselves are not enemies of God. Rather, we are prisoners of God’s enemies – Satan, sin, and death.
So, what happens when we freed, no longer prisoners of God’s enemies?
What happens when death is destroyed?
All are brought to life when death is destroyed.
Everything is brought to life when death is destroyed.
According to 1 Timothy 1:9-10, God “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought lift and immortality to light through the gospel.”
The Greek word for abolished is the exact same Greek word Paul used to say “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
Further, the word light is actually a verb in the passage above. And, the word men, which means “on the one hand” is not translated.
Therefore, Paul really said, “Jesus, destroying death on the one hand and giving light to life and immortality through the gospel.”
When death is destroyed, all that is left is light and immortality.
Or, as John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This leads me to first time the Greek word for death, thanatos, is used in the New Testament. Matthew 4:14-16 says, “So that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles -the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them light has dawned.”
The places before the hyphen are presented in an interesting way. We could see them as a chiasm.
A. The land of Zebulun
B. The land of Naphtali
C. The way of the sea
B’. The land beyond the Jordan
A.’ Galilee of the nations
The land of Zebulun was Galilee. And, Galilee had been taken over by all sorts of foreigners. Indeed, it was also known as Galilee of the gentiles because people from all nations of the world were living there at the time of Jesus.
Look at a map and you will see that indeed the land of Naphtali was the land beyond the Jordan.
The main point Matthew is making is that these lands, these people, were the way of the sea. And, it is these people, those who are the way of the sea that dwell in darkness and dwell in the region and shadow of death. But, these same people have seen a great light and on them light has dawned.
But, what should all of this remind us of?
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanses from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there wa morning, the second day.
“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. And i was. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:2-10)
We can see the dry land as Israel and the gathered waters, the seas, as the way of the sea, the gentiles. The light was commanded to shine forth., The land, Israel appeared. And, Israel was to be the light, revealing God to the nations. Of course, Israel failed to do this. So, when we can also see Genesis 1 as Christ being the light shining forth to both Israel and the gentiles. And, as I have written elsewhere, we can see the first three days of creation as a witness to Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.
What was the result of the first days of creation?
“Let the earth sprout forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” (Genesis 1:11)
And, on each successive, God creates more and higher forms of life.
Once the light shines in the darkness, life increases and increases. This expansion of life does not end until on the seventh day God rested from his work, his bringing life to the entire creation.
But, we should note that on the first six days of creation we read, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” But, we never read this about the seventh. In other words, the seventh day has no end.
In other words, life goes on forever. Eternal life.
The story starts the earth was formless and void, shrouded in darkness. Death was everywhere. But, the Spirit was hovering over the darkness, over death, like a mother hen ready to give birth, to bring forth life.
Then light shines in the darkness. Darkness was separated. Light overcame the darkness. But, that light was shining forth from life.
By the end of the story, there are no more turnings from evening to morning. No more turnings from death to life. The seventh day, the day of rest, goes on without end.
Life goes on without end.
This has been the plan for all creation, the true kingdom of God, from the very beginning.
Life without end for the whole creation is what happens when death is destroyed.